#SHORTVIEW: “Touch” by Noel Harris

Synopsis:

When a single mom, facing eviction, is offered a night’s work, she unsuccessfully seeks a babysitter for her two small children. Desperate, she reaches out to the last person she wants to ask for a favor.


HUMANITY ALWAYS PREVAILS


> The main theme of your story is the pressure that debt creates on the life of a person – especially debts are of an illegal nature. Why did you want to explore this situation?

What I love about watching movies is that people can take away different meanings and the ensuing conversation enlightens all involved.  For me, the main theme of “Touch” is love, not debt – and more specifically, the sacrifices we do for those we love. The pressures of debt are merely an element of the story for me.

The fact that many people have pointed out to the possible “illegal” nature of the debts of the uncle (the protagonist) also confirms my original intentions, which were to turn the viewer into an active antagonist.

Throughout the film, the uncle never does anything wrong – and yet, many take for granted that his debts are from an illegal source, be it because of his poverty or because of the initial aggressiveness of the debt collector. But these are all pre-conceived notions that we have about those that live in poverty, and as such, they create the idea that the nature of the debts that he carries has to be an illegal one.

> What are your views on poverty then?

It’s important to point out that, throughout the movie, the uncle never speaks, not once; because, as I see it, poverty has no voice in our current society. Throughout the movie, the characters that are poor are almost always situated on the ground, because that’s how I wanted to represent poverty. The uncle works on the ground, the little girl sleeps on a mattress on the floor, etc.

> Relationships are also a big part of your story: the uncle even chooses to risk getting beaten or killed, for the chance that the mother can get hired. Do you think we can be ethical in spite of our circumstances?

All human beings, in my opinion, want to love and to be loved, and most of our daily efforts are really a constant struggle to reach this goal. We’d all want to leave this world one day feeling that we’ve lived to our fullest, and that others will remember us. Throughout history, you find this goal in everything, from sculpture to poetry, this idea of fulfillment, of sacrifice.

Throughout the film, I wanted to plant this idea that taking care of each other is really important – in the way that the mother talks to the children, or how the uncle takes care of them, scratching their backs, etc. These small gestures are really what love is, and that is the main theme that I wanted to portray in my film.

In the same way, even the depths of poverty could not break the humanity of the uncle – even knowing the probable outcome, he still chose to act ethically. I think that, despite life being full of horrible scenarios, our humanity always prevails.


At the point of the interview, Noel was deep into the early stages of development of an animated short – and looking to the future, he felt confident in making the step towards feature films.